Where Do We Put Our Faith?
Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. John 14:10-14
What does a Spirit filled life look like? What is it to experience that kind of life? I don’t know about you, but I’ve focused too much on verses 12 and 13 in the past: Jesus’ disciples “will do even greater works than [he has been doing]” and Jesus “will do whatever [we] ask in [his] name”. I’ve focused too much on my own ability to assess the quality of “greater works” anticipated by God, or those that quantify as “great” -– while I rely on my own success in asking or pressuring God into answering these prayers in the way that seems best to me.
Upon closer reading (and after a lot of extra effort), I’ve realized Jesus isn’t asking us to focus so much of ourselves to try to quantify the greatness of good works -– our own or anyone else’s. So what is he saying?
10 “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11a Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me.”
- We need to understand that the Trinity — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — is relational in itself. “Relational” is an often used word in Christianity: I understand what this means by contrasting it to ”transactional”, where everything is done to obtain something – where “relationship” is a means to an alliance in companionship.
- Just as Jesus relates to his Father, we need to be in relationship with the Holy Spirit, learning, growing, obeying — not using God as a means to attainment — even while we’re doing good.
11 “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.”
If it’s too difficult to understand the nature of the Trinity, Jesus gives us option B, which is to believe the evidence of the works he has done.
Sometimes I’ve looked at works of people (who have claimed to be “filled with the Spirit”), more than at Jesus. The first time I remember this happening was when my Dad would watch Catherine Kuhlman on TV. She’d say, “I bee-LEEVE in miracles!”, and I’d think, “that seems a little strange!” Living the life of a TV faith healer did not appeal to me at all. Jesus is asking us to focus on Him, His works and how He interacted with people.
12b “they will do even greater things than these”
- People by nature like to gauge success, control results, and conform to techniques and formulas. I believe Jesus is asking us to accept this statement by faith – not to analyze what it means in practice. Personally I find faith really exciting because it’s saying we can anticipate seeing the greatest surprises in our own lives and in the lives of other believers.
14 “You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.”
- Finally, Jesus tells us that prayer is the way to a life filled with the Holy Spirit’s help and guidance. We don’t need to do good works in playing a mysterious cat and mouse game with God; we really need to pray.
Application: Are there areas in your life that you’re trying to manage on your own? I know I have them! Instead try praying that the Holy Spirit will guide and help you in these areas.
Lately my interpretation of praying in faith is to pray about a situation and then just leave it to God. I don’t keep revisiting the topic as if my extra effort and words would sway God. Instead I ask ‘agog’ that He would help me believe He will answer the prayer I would pray if I knew all that He does.
Would that be something that you might want to try as well?